The V-12 Engine – The Technology, Evolution and Impact of V12-Engined Cars: 1909-2005


Karl Ludvigsen


The V12 Engine gives an unprecedented and in-depth overview of the significant and important V12-powered cars and the magnificent engines that powered them, from the smallest, the 1.1-litre Itala of 1926, to the largest, the 112-litre “Quad Al” of 1965 powered by four Allison twelves.

Karl Ludvigsen, award-winnng automotive historian and author of the acclaimed Porsche: Origin of the Species takes the reader behind the scenes of the creation of the greatest twelves of all time, from the effortless urge of the luxurious Hispano-Suiza of the 1930s to the scintillating surge of the Lamborghini supercars of the 1960s. You’re trackside at the epic battles of Grand Prix twelves in the 1930s and 1990s and you’re in the boardrooms of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz as they battle for V12 supremacy into the 21st Century.

From the first-ever V12 engine of 1904, Ludvigsen traces the type’s evolution through the first European twelve, a 1913 Sunbeam, to the 1915 Packard in America, inspired by a 1908 Schebler. In 1917 Americas mania for multicylinders saw 16 marques offering V12 cars at New York’s show. Britain’s Daimler pioneered them in Europe, where Horch, Tatra, Voisin, Maybach and Hispano-Suiza built twelves.

Not all were successful. Lagonda had mixed fortunes with its twelves and Rolls-Royces Phantom III was an epic loss-maker. Cadillac left its “V-Future” V12 in the garage while Mercedes-Benz made only a handful of its twelves before World War II stopped play. Among Formula 1 entries the efforts of Porsche, MGN and Life were pitiful flops while Honda, Ferrari, BRM and Matra enjoyed success.

Lavishly illustrating The V12 Engine with rare photos and drawings from his Ludvigsen Library, the author explains how and why twelves evolved as they did and introduces such major movers as Jesse Vincent of Packard, Sunbeam’s Louis Coatalen, Louis Delage, W.O. Bentley, Sir Henry Royce, Hispano’s Marc Birkigt, Ferruccio Lamhorghini, Sir William Lyons of Jaguar, Bugatti’s Paolo Stanzani and, of course, Enzo Ferrari. He brings to life their struggles to achieve their aims and quotes contemporary verdicts on their cars.

Ferrari’s fabulous Enzo V12 brings the story up to date, along with contemporary twelve-cylinder engines from Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, BMW, Maybach, Aston Martin, Maserati and Rolls-Royce, and such newcomers to the V12 ranks as Toyota, Bentley, Volkswagen, Cadillac, Peugeot and Audi.

Blending business with technology, racing with record-breaking and luxury carriages with supercars, The V12 Engine takes the reader on a high-speed journey through some of the most exciting and exotic cars ever made.